Duck into most any sub or gyro shop on the south side of Chicago or the south suburbs and you're sure to come across an interesting menu item, the Jim Shoe (or Gym Shoe) sandwich. They're as much a part of the Southside as the White Sox. But why has their popularity not spread across the lake to Michigan?

It's not difficult to find other Chicago culinary items in Southwest Michigan. Deep dish pizza? Check. Dragged-through-the-garden Chicago dogs with true Vienna Beef franks and sport peppers? You betcha. But the Jim Shoe? Conspicuously absent.

What the Heck is a Jim Shoe?

It's easier to tell you what's not on the Jim Shoe because there's a lot. The Jim Shoe is a hybrid that serves up all the key meats Chicago sub and gyro shops have on hand. Take both corned and Italian beef then add on gryo meat (sliced off an authentic Kronos GyroKone, of course) and throw it all onto a roll with your standard sub fixins and that's a Jim Shoe.

Here's how they do it at Submarine Brothers in suburban Maywood:

Chicago Food Chat's Peter Engler has what I think is the most definitive piece online about the Jim Shoe, for the deepest dive possible. 

So Where are my Michigan Jim Shoes?

The question remains, with as Chicago-influenced as we are in West Michigan, why are there no Jim Shoes to be found?

I know of only one place, FoodStreet near the mall on Westnedge in Portage that will make you a Jim Shoe. Here's how they describe it on Yelp:

We specialize at serving our customers with Chicago styled food inside of the small town of Portage. Our specialties include...the infamous Jim Shoe sandwich topped with 3 kinds of meat; roast beef, corn beef, and gyro meat with grilled onions, grilled peppers, cheese, mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, and tzaziki sauce.

Googling around to restaurants from my home county of Berrien, in the extreme southwest of the state and most Chicago-esque corner of Michigan, to Grand Rapids, and I can find no other Jim Shoes - or Gym Shoes. So get with it, every place from New Buffalo to Grand Haven that claims to be "Chicago Style," you're leaving a true taste of the Second City out in the cold.

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